You're a graduate without a job. What now?
2008 was a horrible time to be a recent economics grad looking for a job in banking. Lehman collapsed 3 months earlier, and employers had instituted hiring freezes. I took the only job I could find working the graveyard shift at Walmart. Unloading trucks and stocking frozen goods wasn’t exactly the career I had in mind.
Thinking education was always a good investment 🤦♂️, I traded a difficult situation for a worse one by going to law school. Fast forward to 2012. I earned my law degree and made it out of the freezer section, but now I was behind the wheel of a bus - shuttling luggage and eager vacationers to and from the airport.
I felt sorry for myself and stewed with anger. I'd done everything the "adults" told me to do. Made good grades, finished college, earned my law degree… After 7 years of higher education, all I had to show for it were a few pieces of paper and six figures of debt. 🤯🤯🤯
For the full story, you can check out this post on my journey with student loans, learning to code, and getting out of debt.
Create your own career, on your own terms.
The conventional advice around careers and education is outdated and completely wrong. After years of following along, I was tired of feeling like I had no control over my ability to earn a livelihood. I decided to take control of my career by teaching myself to code. With this new ability, I was able to earn a higher income, build a business, and feel the satisfaction that comes with creating something.
How do I learn to code?
I get this question a lot. Lot’s of people are curious about how I made the switch from law to code. Friends and colleagues often ask me about how they should learn to code. Typically they’re deliberating between taking an online course or enrolling in a coding bootcamps. In most cases, neither of those are going to work.
One of the best things you can do is just decide on something you want to build and google your way to building it. I realize this sounds overwhelming. I’ll show you how to do it. This is the best approach I found for learning to code over last decade. When I started my journey, there was an app I wanted to build, and I systematically worked my way backwards to learn just enough at each step to create it.
Bootcamps and online code schools force extrinsic motivation and lead you through a structured curriculum. This approach can be frustrating, because often times, you have no idea why you’re learning a particular topic or how exactly you’ll apply it when the training wheels are off. On the other hand, the project-driven I’m describing is all about harnessing your own intrinsic motivation. Instead of slogging through online courses or a coding bootcamp for 3 months and spending loads of time and money, you’re able to leverage your own enthusiasm and curiosity to push yourself forward.
What would you be excited to build?
Before we dive in and start learning to code, I want you to take this next week and think hard on this. What would you be excited to build? Next week, you’ll start building that.
Simply identify a problem you’re passionate about. Is there an app, website, or business idea you’ve wanted to work on? Is there a topic or hobby you’re interested in? It could be a sport you love, cooking, fitness, personal finance… literally anything you’d be excited to work on.
So What’s Next?
Each Friday morning for the next 4 weeks, I’ll share a detailed post with learning resources, motivation tips, and links to videos where I’ll be building a sample project. That’s right, I’m building a sample project alongside you. I’ll be approaching this sample project as if I’m learning to code for the first time. This way you can borrow some of my thinking patterns and shortcuts for teaching yourself.
While coding will be a big focus of these posts, I’m also going to tackle a range of other topics like starting your business, setting effective goals, placing asymmetric bets, and tackling debt.
Even if you’re not interested in switching careers, I firmly believe that learning to code will make you better at your current job. We’ve got enough computer science specialists. We need more people with broad real-world experience who can combine programming with their unique knowledge.